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The US-Singapore partnership is an indispensable one

MY family and I recently celebrated our first Thanksgiving holiday in Singapore. As we enjoyed our traditional American pumpkin dessert infused with local flavours of kaya and coconut, we thought about our many blessings.

Since arriving here in July, I am truly thankful to live and work in a country with whom Americans share so many values and aspirations.

As I reflect on my first 100 days, I am pleased by how much we have accomplished with our impressive Singaporean partners. I'm also humbled by the responsibility and honour of leading the 23 US government agencies represented at the US Embassy in Singapore.

I have had the privilege of meeting Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, many Cabinet ministers and government officials, and Singaporeans from all walks of life over these last few months.

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The resounding message is clear: the US and Singapore are indispensable partners.

I saw first-hand the important role Singapore plays on the world stage when, shortly after my arrival, the US and 45 United Nations member states signed the Singapore Convention on Mediation.

The Convention rightfully bears the Republic's name given Singapore's leadership in settling cross-border commercial disputes and stabilising trade relationships.

In September in New York, US President Donald Trump and Mr Lee renewed the 1990 Memorandum of Understanding Regarding United States Use of Facilities in Singapore.

This landmark agreement has underpinned the US security presence in the region for almost 30 years, and its renewal for another 15 years underscores the US-Singaporean partnership as a vital component of peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.

This commitment to our shared security was also evident when the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan visited Singapore.

It was a privilege to join many of our Singaporean and international partners on board and to witness the dedication of our service members and their unmatched defence capabilities in their jet fighters.

PARTNERS IN PROSPERITY

I was in Bangkok to attend the Indo-Pacific Business Forum in early November, where nearly 1,000 business and government leaders from the US and across the Indo-Pacific gathered to promote the value of high quality investment, transparency, rule of law, and private-sector-led economic development.

I interacted with many US and Asian companies at the event, and many told me that they admired the US as a leader in entrepreneurship, innovation, and higher education.

The US' economic commitment to the region is significant, with two-way trade between the US and the Indo-Pacific nearing US$2 trillion last year. Moreover, the US is the largest foreign direct investor in the Indo-Pacific at US$866 billion.

At the forum, the US, Japan and Australia unveiled the Blue Dot Network, a multi-stakeholder initiative that promotes high-quality, trusted standards for global infrastructure development.

The initiative is led by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, which in March signed a memorandum of understanding with the Singapore government to strengthen our coordination in advancing regional development.

In October, Singapore and the US Department of the Treasury also signed a new framework to strengthen infrastructure finance and market building cooperation.

The forum in Bangkok underscored the region's remarkable transformation over the past decades. As millions have been lifted out of poverty, the region has attracted world-class companies, becoming an engine of global economic growth.

There are currently more than 4,500 American companies in Singapore. On average, a new US company opens here every three days.

These companies bring American innovation, jobs, and shared values. They also bring US foreign direct investment (FDI), which stands today at S$293 billion.

The US is Singapore's single largest source of FDI and largest trading partner in services. This deep and broad trade and investment relationship has created hundreds of thousands of jobs in Singapore and the US.

US businesses meaningfully support the Singaporean communities where they live and work.

I recently experienced this commitment by our private sector first-hand when I kicked off this year's American Chamber of Commerce Corporate Community Day, where hundreds of volunteers joined the South West Community Development Council to distribute care packages to over 500 families in Bukit Gombak.

American companies prove that businesses can simultaneously profit and be a force for good in their communities.

SHARED VALUES

Our shared values form the foundation of our partnership, and our people-to-people ties are a testament to the depth and breadth of that relationship.

About 5,000 Singaporeans study at American colleges and universities each year. In fact, half of Singapore's current Cabinet ministers are US-educated, and the US is enriched by the time Singaporeans have spent studying and contributing within our borders.

As I quickly realised after arriving here, we have a lot to learn from Singapore, a country whose extraordinary progress since independence is the envy of the world.

LOOKING AHEAD

The US-Singapore story is one of partnership - not just through government, but also through our people, our companies, and our institutions.

My team at the Embassy and I look forward to deepening this important bilateral relationship with regional and global impact for the benefit of our people, our two countries, and the world.

  • The writer is the ChargĂ© d'Affaires at the US Embassy Singapore.